Local packaging business continues partnership to inspire and support Ukrainian children

By Jessica Durston - 4 October 2022


Wiltshire-based packaging business GWP and "cardboard ninja" Ben Edmonds, have continued their partnership to offer STEM and innovation lessons to children who have been brought to the UK from Ukraine.

Ben Edmonds

Ben Edmonds, aka Innovation Ben, is the named inventor on multiple global patents and works as a principal engineer at Dyson.

Ben also runs a weekly inventor club for kids in his spare time, and is looking to support refugees by offering several places on his courses on a scholarship basis.

Ben said: "While I am not in a position to host a refugee family, after everything they have been through I am keen to offer any support I can. Providing free scholarships on my courses seemed like a small way I could contribute to welcoming them and hopefully making the transition to living in a new country easier. The aim is to provide something fun and inspiring for them to be involved with."

There are three places on offer to Ukrainian children - free of charge - as a result of the joint partnership between Innovation Ben and GWP.

Ben added: "I am not a big company. It's just me running my courses in the evenings, trying to pass on my passion for design, engineering and innovation to the next generation.

"Thanks to the generosity of GWP - who have kindly pledged to match me with 50% of the course fees - I will be able to offer three places this term completely free of charge to children from Ukraine who have a flair for these subjects."

Besides Inventor Club and his other ventures, Ben has also launched a global DT innovation competition this autumn in partnership with Doha College and COBIS, reaching over 280 schools worldwide.

Additionally, he recently ran his first online Inventor Club with a group of students in Hong Kong to raise money for the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Packaging company GWP, which is part of Macfarlane Group PLC, already sponsors Innovation Ben by providing all the cardboard he uses for Inventor Club and his educational workshops.

Cardboard material supplied by GWP was recently used by hundreds of children at Westonbirt's International English Language Summer School. Participants used the materials to invent and test innovative bridges, ocean cleaning machines and ingenious delivery devices.

Matt Dobson, Marketing Manager at GWP, said: "We have had a long-standing relationship with Ben. His enthusiasm for inspiring the next generation of designers and engineers is something we feel is incredibly important.

"So, when Ben suggested helping Ukrainian children in the local area take part in his courses, we were delighted to be able to help."

This term of Inventor Club is said to be all about transportation. Students will be making cars fly, creating a working monorail, designing the car of the future, jet-powering dragsters for time trials, making trains climb cliffsides, and building soap box racers.

The Inventor Club team say the criteria to apply for the places include:

  • Children should be aged between 7 and 15 years.
  • They will either describe or show in some way (pictures or videos) why they would like to join Inventor Club.
  • The candidates will be enthusiastic and have a love for making, tinkering, creating and a fascination with problem-solving and how things work.
  • English language skills are not a priority, just a passion for design engineering and a desire to learn.

Whilst Ben offers online sessions from anywhere in the UK and internationally, children applying must live within commuting distance of Swindon (where Ben runs his weekly club at UTC Swindon on Tuesday evenings).

Candidates wishing to apply must do so before 12 October by emailing [email protected] or contacting @innovationben on social media.

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